Iran agrees to 10-year freeze on nuclear weapons

The deal with six world powers will lead to the lifting of sanctions.   Nathan Smith talks about the Iran deal in Foreign Affairs Scope on NBR Radio and on demand on MyNBR Radio.

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See also: Editor’s Insight: The coming Iran gold rush and how it will benefit NZ and Key points of the Iran nuclear deal

Six world powers have reached an historic agreement in Vienna with Iran that will prevent it from producing nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.

The accord, which comes after a decade of diplomatic efforts that frequently appeared on the verge of collapse, should ease tensions between Iran and the West over a wide range of diplomatic and economic issues.

The US, which was joined in the talks with the other four permanent US Security Council members (China, Russia, UK, France) and Germany, broke diplomatic ties with Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the seizing of hostages in the US Embassy.

President Barack Obama, who has made rapprochement with Iran a key foreign policy goal, hailed the deal in an address from the White House and threatens to veto any vote in Congress against it.

The deal needs to be approved by both Houses in 60 days and could face opposition from the Republican majorities.

“Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” the president said.

“Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.”

'Historic mistake,' Netanyahu says
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal a historic mistake.

“Wide-ranging concessions were made in all of the areas which should have prevented Iran from getting the ability to arm itself with a nuclear weapon,’’ he said. “The desire to sign an agreement was stronger than everything else.”

Opposition to a deal is strongest in Israel and the Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia.

All have warned that lifting tight international sanctions will deliver an economic windfall that enables Iran to expand its regional influence by boosting funding for Islamic insurgencies in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also hailed the agreement, saying it met all his country’s goals.

“Today, a new page has turned,” he said in a nationally televised speech.

At the heart of the agreement is Iran’s acceptance of strict limits on its nuclear activities for 10 years.

After that, those constraints will ease in the subsequent five years.

In exchange, the US, the European Union and the UN will lift tight international sanctions, a move that could help Iran’s economy to expand by 7% to 8% annually for years to come.

Oil exports alone could quickly double by another one million barrels, while more than $US100 billion in oil revenues locked overseas under US sanctions will become available.

New Zealand’s reaction
Foreign Minister Murray McCully says the agreement is a positive development for regional stability in the Middle East and will allow for further progress to be made in the relationship between New Zealand and Iran.

“Over the past 18 months negotiators have been working to secure an agreement that will increase international confidence in the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme,” he says in a statement.

“New Zealand commends all parties to the negotiations for staying the course and concluding this important deal.

“As the current president of the United Nations Security Council, New Zealand will do what it can to expedite any necessary Security Council action, and we call for the agreement to be implemented as soon as possible,” Mr McCully says.

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